Friday, July 7, 2017

Hoboken campaigns engage for the prize

A whirlwind of events in recent weeks finds the Mile Square City in a place few saw coming: a wide open mayoral election.

Four major campaigns are underway and some council candidates are being tossed into the mix as the  battle for who will succeed Mayor Zimmer.

The failure to execute what many close political observers anticipated as the baton toss to the well established councilman Ravi Bhalla, who shepherded her legislative will in his two terms has opened the flood gates. Some observers will look back and say if that two step plan had been handled better, the seasoned council member would be a favorite against two Old Guard options as in 2013.

That's water under the bridge. Now you have three savy, seasoned and experienced Hoboken political veterans in council members Ravi Bhalla, Jen Giattino, Freeholder Anthony "Stick" Romano and one shiny penny, the junior councilman Mike DeFusco.

Hoboken's wide open mayoral race to succeed Mayor Dawn Zimmer sees four major campaigns vying for her seat
on the second floor of City Hall led by established political forces: Council President Jen Giattino, Councilman Ravi Bhalla, Freeholder Anthony Romano and one shiny penny in junior councilman Mike DeFusco. 

All the major mayoral candidates have strengths and weaknesses. Romano easily won his re-election bid for Freeholder and has the hearts and minds of Old Hoboken ready to pull the lever for him in November. His name recognition establishes him as the frontrunner out of the gate.

Reform council members Ravi Bhalla and Jen Giattino have lengthy resumes of winning legislation on the City Council and loyal supporters in the community. Bhalla has the coveted endorsement of Mayor Zimmer while Giattino has fervid grassroots backing who literally cheered her announcement entering the race.

Councilman Mike DeFusco has the support of Old Guard politicos Frank "Pupie" Raia, Perry Belfiore, Councilman Ruben Ramos and rumors say Carmelo Garcia, fundraising outside Hoboken but without long time friend Chris Campos who fell into the "man down" category and is scheduled to go away this fall.

Don't look at any of that the DeFusco camp will say; look at the new recruited faces for the at-large council slate and of course the fixture atop the ticket, a shiny penny.

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'My husband'

Official release

Hi MSV readers,

I write to share some thoughts about my husband, Ravi. There is the Ravi that I know and the Ravi known in the public square. I'd like to let you know about both.

When we first met at a small coffee shop in London in 2003, Ravi was a young, single professional living in Hoboken and I was living in London practicing human rights law. I was moved by his kindness, intelligence, and charm. But there was something more. What truly connected me to Ravi was our shared passion for social justice and civil rights.  

We were a young couple and began our journey together in Hoboken after we got married. When my work with the International Rescue Committee required me to temporarily live in Sudan, Africa, Ravi supported my career and took care of our daughter, Arza with his parents while managing his own career. Ravi has always been there for me, and has been a dedicated husband and caring father.

Before I met Ravi, he earned his BA at the University of California, Berkeley, a Masters from the London School of Economics and a law degree from Tulane. He then moved to Hoboken in 2000 and was soon featured in the New York Times for his civil rights work. Recently, Ravi volunteered at Newark Liberty Airport to offer pro bono legal services for those caught in limbo when the federal government introduced travel restrictions. Throughout his career, Ravi has always stood up for what he believed to be right and took action.

In many ways, life is about choices, and we were confronted with one in 2008. When our municipal taxes went up 70% in one year, Ravi told me he wanted to run for City Council and make a difference. I encouraged him to do so because this reflected our partnership and common vision. 

Together, we knocked on countless doors with our children and entire family in support of the local reform movement. We are a close, warm family (we live next door to Ravi's brother Amar, his wife and children) and we do things together. We make this a “family affair” because we want to instill the civic value of community engagement in our kids. Like you, Ravi and I love Hoboken and the real sense of community we feel living here. 

As a Councilman in Hoboken, Ravi has gone beyond the call of duty to do his part to help local residents in need. When a resident spoke at a council meeting about how she and her three children were about to be forcibly displaced from their affordable housing unit, Ravi took it upon himself to provide free legal assistance to her and successfully fought against her eviction.

What I admire most about Ravi is his honesty and passion to serve the interests of our community. He is not afraid to stand up and show leadership in times of crisis. He is a staunch advocate of good government and firmly believes that ultimately, all politics is local.  

I could not ask for a better person to grow older with here in Hoboken. I have no doubt that as our Mayor, Ravi will be a strong, smart, and compassionate leader of this city. Thank you for hearing me out and see you on the campaign trail!


Bindya Bhalla
PS - If you have your own story to share of why you support Ravi, I'd love to hear from you! (feel free to let us know).